News from the Center

by Larry Glass and Carrie Tully

A New Day…Sort of

We, and the entire environmental community can take a deep breath knowing that after January 20, 2021, no more environmentally destructive Executive Orders will be issued from the White House. Now, that’s the good news. Unfortunately, there is time for a lot more destruction until we get to that important date. Even with the new Deomcratic President,  we still have the problem of the Republican party, led by Mitch McConnell (the self-described “Grim Reaper”), who refuses to allow bipartisan bills to even be debated in the Senate. We’re going to have to make bold and creative use of Executive Orders to ensure that we protect the remaining environmental assets we have in this country. For example, as we write this, The lame duck Trump administration is asking oil companies to identify where they would like to drill on Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it races to open the pristine wilderness to development and lock in drilling rights before the Biden administration takes charge. This is going to require maximum use of public pressure to stop some irreversible destruction of places like the Tongass and the National Wildlife Refuge. Our elected officials, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Jared Huffman, and whoever Governor Newsom appoints to take Senator Harris’s place, need to hear how important these special places are to you.  

 

August Complex Fire

Many of us are still dealing with the effects of the million-acre plus August Complex Fire. As of now, the U.S. Forest Service and the State of California are focused on the Mad River watershed because it is a municipal water source. Almost all of the government resources are being applied to recovery and remediation of the area around and to the south of Ruth Lake. While this is critical, it’s not the only place impacted. The South Fork of the Trinity river is a critical watershed, and unfortunately has had severe impacts from both the fire itself, and the suppression efforts. Right now, very little work is being done in this very large watershed to protect it from the coming winter storms.

 

Broadway Corridor

The City of Eureka, under the guise of fixing vehicular and pedestrian traffic problems on Broadway, is once again proposing roads through wetlands and contaminated areas near the waterfront. It seems that every ten years or so, the City decides that it’s worth trying to blow this by the public again. Every time the public rises up and says emphatically ‘No’, and the Coastal Commission tells the City ‘No’. But, here we go again. Instead of doing improvements to the Broadway Corridor itself, which would reduce bicycle v. vehicle and pedestrian v. vehicle collisions, they’re going to go down this rabbit hole again. If you live or work in Eureka, let the City Council and Caltrans know how you feel about your personal safety in the Broadway Corridor.

 

Trinidad Hotel Proposal

The Coastal Commission took action on the Trinidad Rancheria’s hotel development proposal. In an October 30, 2020, letter to the BIA, the Executive Director identified several additional information needs: (a) dry-weather pump testing for the two proposed wells, and possibly additional well(s), that would indicate a supply adequate to support the hotel at 100% capacity (14,000+ gallons per day); (b) Information on “Location, yield, drawdown extent and recharge potential, and cones of depression associated with all proposed wells..”; and (c) “Evaluation of the potential coastal resource-related effects of the wells, including effects from a third well once its location is identified”, including possible effects on nearby McConnahas Mill Creek. Now our attention turns to the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District and the request being made to them to provide water for this large development. The NEC will continue to watch this and keep you informed.

 

Staff Operations

Although we’ve been pretty vocal about the incredible job that staff has been doing to adapt to working from home, we’re going to do it again. The autumn season has been a time for us to reflect on the last year’s achievements, and to plan how we would like the next year to look. Because the office is no longer being used for day-to-day operations, staff have reimagined it to be used in a way that will make it a more interactive and community-focused space. We know that due to the recent move to the red COVID-19 tier we won’t be able to reopen the office to the public, but that hasn’t stopped us from preparing for reopening! With everything in life, there is a silver lining to this change…

As a result of being unable to work together in our office or reopen to the public, we have envisioned an eco-boutique workspace that welcomes passers-by, can host community collaborative meetings, offers a place for eco-creations, and provides resources for Trash Trackers. Outreach Coordinator and EcoNews Graphics Designer, Chelsea Pulliam, has taken the lead on interior design – meticulously evaluating the purpose of every item in the office. We are truly taking a new direction with regard to this space, and might not have had the opportunity to do so if this year had been business as usual. The staff’s perseverance and positivity continues to shine!

Finally, we wish to take this opportunity to inform you that the NEC is entering into its 50th year! The first order of business in the new year, will be hosting a virtual Open House on January 21, 2021. We will take this opportunity to show gratitude for the people and organizations that helped us come this far, tell stories, socialize, and feature live music by Michael Dayvid. 

With that being said, Happy Holidays! We will see you in 2021. Cheers!